Tuesday, January 03, 2006

2005: We ate, we ate, and we ate some more

Happy New Year!

2005 was an eventful year for us. In W’s case, because he had embarked on an exciting new venture he’s incredibly passionate about. In my case, because I had decided to leave a fairly cushy job as the fashion and beauty editor of a popular lifestyle glossy to freelance. Working from home, and empowered with the ability to accept or decline projects as I see fit, has meant that I have never been happier on many counts. Not least of which, because I now have the time, and consequently the right frame of mind, to cook in the manner that I’ve always wanted to – by hand, from scratch, with love and patience in as much as possible as often as I care to. Below, two meals from the final weeks of the fabulous year just past.

I.

Spicy Prawn Bisque with Crab Dumplings
Inspired by a recipe in Neil Perry’s book, Rockpool, this dish marries classic French bisque-making technique with piquant Southeast Asian flavours. The intense base flavour comes from slowly frying prawn shells with a pounded spice paste of garlic, shallots, galangal, tumeric, lemongrass, kaffir lime zest and chillies before the alcohol (I used cognac) and chicken stock are added– sounds implausible, tastes fantastic. The dumplings are filled with freshly picked crab meat bound with prawn mousse. Fried curry leaves add the final, fragrant finishing touch.

Ann & Franco Taruschio’s Vincisgrassi
This is the delicious porcini and prosciutto variant of the luxurious lasagne dish that's a speciality of the Marche region, something I’ve written about previously. The recipe can be found in Ann and Franco Taruschio’s lovely book, Leaves from The Walnut Tree. Squares of silken homemade egg pasta are layered with parmesan and a rich besciamella thick with slivers of porcini and prosciutto, baked till crustily golden and served with a splash of white truffle oil.

Noir Orange Truffle Tart with Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream
Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream, adapted from a recipe in Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course, which I had infused with Mariage Frères’ elegant Earl Grey French Blue blend, is paired with a chocolate truffle tart designed to showcase the citrusy bergamot flavour of the tea – the crisp pâte sucrée shell is filled with a velvety cream made by blending some Earl Grey-flavoured crème anglaise with Valrhona’s Noir Orange 56% cacao dark chocolate. Unlike a straightforward cream-and-chocolate ganache which would have set firm when chilled, using custard for the base ensures the filling sets to a soft, pudding-like texture even when served straight from the fridge.

II.

Handmade Squid Ink Noodles with Tiger Prawns, Squid, Chilli and Coriander
Adapted from Neil Perry’s signature recipe in Neale Whitaker’s The Accidental Foodie, this pasta dish blends robust Italian and Thai flavours to great effect. Slippery smooth squid ink noodles, freshly made, are tossed with stir-fried tiger prawns and squid spiked with chillies, coriander and fish sauce. Who would have thought? But like most Neil Perry recipes, the unlikely combination works beautifully.

Polenta with Truffled Brie & Caramelised Sage Butter
A hearty and wholly satisfying way with polenta that’s a recent addition to my repertoire and has since become a firm favourite in our home, something I make whenever W comes back from Geneva bearing fat, ripe wedges of luscious truffled brie. Roasted polenta flavoured with porcini is blanketed with unctuous truffled brie sauce, and given an added fillip of caramelised sage butter.

Michael Recchiuti’s Caramel & Milk Chocolate Pots de Crème
Cooked just so, these intensely flavoured little custards have a lovely texture. Best served in small portions thanks to their ultra rich nature, the recipe is from Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage’s gorgeous book, Chocolate Obsession. Alongside, something crunchy is good – I used shards of buttery pecan toffee.

35 Comments:

Blogger Santos said...

may this year be even more delicious than the last! happy new year to you and your family :)

9:53 am, January 03, 2006  
Blogger Nicholas said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:38 am, January 03, 2006  
Blogger Nicholas said...

Happy New Year J!
Congratulations on your new working hours.
Working freelance and being able to cook from scratch... Good on you!
As always, I'm loving the presentation of the fruits of your labour

10:41 am, January 03, 2006  
Blogger The UnProfessional Chef said...

Hi J

Happy New Year to you too! It was nice running into you last week after years! :)
The food looks absolutely scrumptious as usual - looking forward to more good eats and tempting photos from you this year.

10:48 am, January 03, 2006  
Anonymous Clare Eats said...

Happy New Year!

What a fabulous year you have had, I can now see why your blog is so fantastic, better than any glossy food magazine!

I am at my usual loss for words over your cooking and photography... fab job!

12:27 pm, January 03, 2006  
Anonymous paz said...

What wonderful meals to end the year and begin the new one with!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Best,
Paz

12:31 pm, January 03, 2006  
Blogger Chubby Hubby said...

Hmmmm.... I can taste the polenta and truffled brie all over again. Thanks for sharing that meal with us!

That New Year's Day feast looks fab. Especially the vincigrassi. Yum. W sure is a lucky boy.

He's not the only one of course. On the same day, S made me the vanilla, vanilla, vanilla dessert I've been bugging her to make forever!

Happy New Year!

1:17 pm, January 03, 2006  
Blogger Reid said...

Hi J,

Looks like you had a wonderfully delicious end to an already appetizing year! I'm glad that both you and W have found ways to improve your lifestyle and I thank you for sharing your passion for cooking with me(us).

Here's to another beautifully photographed and tantilizingly tasty year!

Happy New Year to you!

2:40 pm, January 03, 2006  
Blogger Pille said...

Happy New Year, J! Mouthwateringly tasty pictures - and now I know where all that attention to visual detail comes from:)

6:07 pm, January 03, 2006  
Blogger MM said...

I am so hungry just looking at your photos! Happy New Year!

8:26 pm, January 03, 2006  
Blogger cin said...

Congrats on going freelance! Wishing you a wonderful year of cooking ahead, J.

12:28 am, January 04, 2006  
Blogger Vivilicious said...

Hi there J.!
What can I say, your gorgeous yet scrumptious food (the two do not always go hand in had I've discovered) inspire me yet make me feel like I've got a long way to go baby. Au secours! I may be knocking on your door for some help in person, looks like hubby and I are moving to Singapore around March time! Talk about changes... May 2006 be filled with more to-die-for food and drink, more gadgets and goodies, in fact all that your heart desires!

1:30 am, January 04, 2006  
Blogger Fran said...

Everything looks so delicious--including the photography. Best wishes for the New year!

10:53 am, January 04, 2006  
Anonymous ST said...

Hi J

A belated happy new year to u. Lovely food as always :)

2:43 pm, January 04, 2006  
Anonymous sha said...

FREELANCE. then you can chuck the bad work have fun

I went to the better part of Athens today and saw a shop that sells TRUFFLED GOAT CHEESE.. I could not resist it...200g for about €9.50 if not mistaken or am in denial with the price!

I had a stopover in Zurich last June for 6 hrs (well we purposely did it) and we went to shop different cheeses!

anyhow my biggest wish this year is learn how to cook food with tea based fusion. Never did this but have eaten tea based food before. It sounds difficult but there are always first time.

HAPPY NEW YEAR JOCELYN
more beautiful stories and photos please
but I do wish you good health, hope, smiles for the new year!

10:12 pm, January 04, 2006  
Blogger Ruth said...

Jocelyn, stunning post as usual. No one does it better!!

Congrats on making the choice to go solo and best of luck with it.

Hope your 2006 is a fruitful and delicious as can be.

11:25 pm, January 04, 2006  
Anonymous Tea said...

Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to another year of mouthwatering pictures and posts. ^_^

3:12 am, January 05, 2006  
Blogger Shauna said...

Wow. No wonder you've never been happier. You're doing work that you love and making THIS FOOD! And the photographs, of course, are just scrumptious. There's a real sense of peace in them. Whoever is looking through the lens shows up in the photos. If you're ever in Seattle, you know where to come eat.

Happy New Year, my dear!

3:16 am, January 05, 2006  
Anonymous sarah said...

happy new year!

(always admiring your photos and lurking, without too much commenting since my jaw is usually on the ground - but still wanted to wish you well for 2006!)

7:38 am, January 05, 2006  
Blogger yoony said...

happy new year!

wow, your site is just so amazing, beautiful, and inspiring. thanks for all the great entries.

12:00 pm, January 05, 2006  
Blogger Cathy said...

Happy New Year Jocelyn! Such beautiful food - can't wait to see what's coming in the new year!

12:29 pm, January 05, 2006  
Blogger eatdrinknbmerry said...

*breathless, drool*

5:02 pm, January 05, 2006  
Anonymous Elsie said...

I am completely blown away by your blog. As I was telling my friend, how could anyone have so much patience to cook such beautiful dishes and have great photographs to give justice to the efforts put into it. Great blog, have already bookmarked it!

7:39 pm, January 05, 2006  
Anonymous jeanne said...

I don't know where to start--truffled brie, beautiful sounding and looking morsels--careful your happiness is turning into joy! :-)

10:44 pm, January 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi J,

someone sent me this link and i could hardly believe you made all this at home! am just starting to learn how to cook and appreciate food... your blog is a real inspiration. thank you and happy new year!

Penny

12:02 am, January 06, 2006  
Anonymous Luisa said...

I mean, all those photos are just out of this world. But the pots de creme? Unbelievable. They look beyond delicious. Happy New Year! Look forward to reading more from you.

12:48 am, January 06, 2006  
Blogger Michèle said...

J, your cooking and your photos have always been truly awe inspiring! If only I could eat as well as you do I would be in heaven, all the time! Its been a pleasure following your blog in 2005, Im looking forward to even more in 2006!

2:33 am, January 06, 2006  
Blogger Tokyoastrogirl said...

You are truly an inspiration. Your talent as a chef, food stylist, food photographer and writer are to be admired.

Thanks for a year of wonderful blogging- I always look forward to new entries.

3:37 am, January 06, 2006  
Blogger J said...

hi santos, thank you for your well wishes. happy new year to you too!

hi nicholas, thanks; glad you like the pictures. happy new year!

hi the unprofessional chef, it really was nice! almost surreal, in fact ;) you and s look exactly the same! stay in touch, please...

hi clare, thanks for always being so sweet and kind...happy new year! (ps: really glad you found kiri!)

hi paz, thanks! happy new year to you too!

hi ch, most welcome! very glad you and s could join us...and on the subject of the k boys, i'm inclined to say it's thanks to artful persuasion rather than luck that you get to eat whatever you want to whenever you want to! i say this with great affection, of course ;) that beautiful vanilla vanilla vanilla looks like a true labour of love

hi reid, thanks, it's been a real pleasure sharing! btw, i was watching a programme on hawaii last night on telly and they featured lau lau - i immediately thought of you!

hi pille, some would say obsession with detail ;) yup, that's me, sweater of the small stuff...happy new year!

hi mm, thanks, glad you like the pictures...happy new year!

hi cin, thanks! happy new year to you!

hi viv, wow! really! please stay in touch; march is just round the corner! you must be very busy preparing for the move...

hi fran, thanks for visiting...happy new year to you!

hi st, thanks! may the new year be a fantastic one for you too...

hi sha, thank you so much for your well wishes - i hope your new year is very fulfilling too! btw, the truffled goat cheese sounds very very divine...

hi ruth, thank you very much! happy new year to you too. one of the nice things about working from home is doing away with the mini morning crises of what-shall-i-wear-today!

hi tea, thanks! i'll try my best; i am oftentimes very tardy...

hi shauna, thank you and happy new year to you too! it's through this blog that i've met such wonderful people like yourself; by the way, congratulations for the food blog award nominations - most well-deserved!

hi sarah, thank you so much for dropping by and being so encouraging - i am beyond honoured!

hi yoony, thanks for all the well wishes! happy new year to you too!

hi cathy, thanks! may the new year be a very delicious one for you!

hi dylan, *thanks heaps, blush*

hi elsie, thank you very much for visiting! the photography is something i've come to thoroughly enjoy...

hi jeanne, cooking joyously...hmmm, i like the sounds of that! truffled brie ranks right up there in my list of favourite foods...

hi penny, thank you for dropping by and leaving such kind words; much appreciate it...and happy new year to you too!

hi luisa, thanks! i love making pots de creme almost as much as i enjoy eating them; there's something about spoon-food that's very comforting...

hi michele, thank you! the pleasure is very much mutual; i have thoroughly enjoyed your gustatory tour of paris this past year...

hi tokyoastrogirl, thank you very much for your incredibly kind words...i always look forward to posting new entries!

9:57 am, January 06, 2006  
Blogger the baker said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR J! keep up the good eats. and continue to be an inspiration to us all... love the photos and dishes as usual. actually, hello! what's there not to love about your creations! good on you... i can only guess what goodies you'll come up with for CNY. :)

10:50 am, January 06, 2006  
Blogger shaz said...

oh wow! i stumbled upon your blog from a link. glad i did! you got an eye for great food pictures. i added your blog as a link on mine. I hope you dont mind.
shaz, a fellow singapore food blogger. http://nookbistro.blogspot.com

6:31 pm, January 06, 2006  
Anonymous Melissa said...

Hi J, first of all congratulations on the photography nomination, it is very well deserved! Also congratulations on making a career change that allows you the time to cook, write and photograph to you heart's content - I'm very envious! And finally, what an amazing couple of meals... I'm stunned by the artistry, balance and good taste that went into selecting all of the dishes. What a way to welcome in the new year - you've raised the bar yet again!

11:09 pm, January 06, 2006  
Blogger J said...

hi the baker, thanks but you're very kind...CNY is just round the corner isn't it (i keep forgetting)...

hi shaz, thanks for visting; glad you like what you see!

hi melissa, thank you very much - and congratulations to you too (all the nominations were very well deserved)!

7:01 pm, January 07, 2006  
Blogger mg said...

Hi J,

I found your link from 'Accidental Hedonist' Blog Awards list of finalists.

Now i can see why! I'm so glad i followed the link. You have such a lovely blog - mine's just an amateurish one (so if you happen to visit me sometimes, don't expect much!)Lol. Honestly, the writing, the recipe, the photos... the photos! Wow... you capture the brilliance in food. Love, love, love your blog.

Mae

9:48 pm, January 12, 2006  
Blogger J said...

hi mae, thank you so much for visiting and leaving a kind note.and you're being far too modest - rice&noodles is truly lovely!

2:37 pm, January 16, 2006  

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